Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Rowan williams: Christ on Trial

Christ on Trial

The Time for Truth

This is where the meaning of the trial becomes clear, where we see what truth it is that this trial establishes.  Jesus before the High Priest has no leverage in the world; he is denuded of whatever power he might have had.  Stripped and bound before the court, he has no stake in how the world organizes itself.  He is definitively outside the system of the world's power.  He is going to die, because that is what the world has decided.  It is at this moment and this moment only that he speaks plainly who he is.  He names himself with the name of the God of Israel, 'I am', and tells the court that they will see the Human One seated at God's right hand, coming in judgement.  Humanity does not live in this world of insane authorities, but with God.  When God's judgement arrives, it will be in the unveiling of a true human face as opposed to the masks and caricatures of the High Priest's world.

Mark is inviting us to think again about what we mean by transcendence.  Normally, when we use such words, we think of God's surpassing greatness, but how can we avoid that becoming just a massive projection of what we mean by greatness?  If that is the case, we shall, like Peter in the Gospel story, rebel against what God actually desires to do and be in the life of Jesus.  If we are to have our language about the transcendence - the sheer, unimaginable differentness - of God recreated, it must be by the emptying out of all we thought we knew about it, the emptying out of all we normally mean by greatness.  No more about the lofty distance of God, the sovereignty that involves control over all circumstances: God's 'I am' can only be heard for what it really is when it has no trace of human power left to it; when it appears as something utterly different from human authority, even human liberty; when it is spoken by a captive under sentence of death.
(pp. 6, 7)

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